Anniversary of the March of Selma

Dozens of Tallahasseeans are boarding a bus this weekend bound for Selma, Alabama. They're going to mark the 40th anniversary of arguably the most important march of the civil rights movement.

A bloody battle aired on TV that made America sit up in its arm chair and take notice.

In Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965, civil rights marchers made it just six blocks to the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge before lawmen drove them back with Billy clubs and tear gas. They called it "bloody Sunday."

Reverend S.L. Phillips of the Tallahassee Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference says, "We were watching it on TV and the people running and hollering and screaming, and my mother was crying and my father was crying and said, 'lord, this has to change.’ "

Reverend S.L. Phillips vividly remembers it even though he was just eight years old at the time.

Rev. Phillips says, "Bloody Sunday really is the moment in history that changed the civil rights movement due to the fact that the world was able to see what America was doing to her own."

Days later Martin Luther King and thousands of marchers would try again and succeed, crossing Pettus Bridge and marching into Montgomery with a court order in hand.

Tallahasseean Larry Block chartered planes back then and flew news crews to Selma that day. He watched it all unfold from a nearby hilltop.

Larry says, “I knew things were changing and I was observing a change, but it really didn't dawn on me that it would achieve the historic proportion that it has and that it should have."

A bus will leave Tallahassee this Sunday bound for a reenactment in Selma nearly 40 years to the day later. As organizers go over final details of the trip they admit it'll be emotional to trace those steps and they desperately want young people to join them to hear, see and feel the pain of progress.

Anita Davis, a civil rights activist, says, "We shed tears for those who gave their lives, who were maimed, who were dogged, who were shot down or hosed down with water. That'll give us a chance to look at what they went through. It wasn't easy."

Two of Tallahassee's civil rights giants will be honored in Selma this weekend too as the names of C.K. Steele and R.N. Gooden will be added to the new civil rights freedom wall.

If you are interested in going to Selma or sponsoring a young person's trip, the bus leaves bright and early Sunday morning. Call Anita Davis with the NAACP at 850-574-3075 for more information.